The Gist

State lawmakers moved not only to expand mental-health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Georgians who struggle with accessing it, but also to keep people with severe conditions from winding up in jail or the emergency room instead of local treatment centers.

What’s Happening

The Mental Health Parity Act, sponsored by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), proposes requiring Georgia’s insurance providers to guarantee coverage for mental health needs – a move patients and advocates say would help lift Georgia from the bottom ranks of states offering mental-health care access.

“It’s not just affecting one individual,” said Corinne Cherry, a Fulton County resident struggling with mental-health and substance-abuse issues. “It’s affecting everyone as human beings.”

“Now is the time for us to have parity and for us to have these services. I see people in my community that need this, now more than ever,” added Hank Arnold, a Coweta County resident recovering from substance abuse. 

Ralston’s bill and related legislation also aim to bolster programs focused on keeping people with mental-health issues out of jails and hospitals, such as “co-response” teams that send trained clinicians out with police officers to assess what to do with people experiencing psychotic episodes.

The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly Wednesday and now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.

Unlock This Article